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Fri 2nd Sep 2016 - Friday Opinion
Subjects: The black magic of marketing effectiveness, targeting millennials through Snapchat, and the great and not so good
Authors: James Hacon, Libby Andrews, and Ann Elliott

The black magic of marketing effectiveness by James Hacon

Competition is fierce in the sector right now, with some saying we are near saturation point in terms of new site openings. In many places it is clear that supply outstrips demand, putting pressure on brands to win market share from other major players, rather than independents. Within my network, it is clear that marketing budgets are increasing, with many more brands than before turning to above-the-line advertising.

In the average 90-minute period, a consumer sees 250 adverts from more than 100 brands in 70 different formats. The average cut-through is less than 1%, according to a statistic published in The Guardian recently. What does it mean to us as an industry? Simply, we have to work remarkably hard to cut through the noise and get our message heard. With the insight I’ve had into businesses, both large and growing, it’s all too often the case that the marketing activity is a scattergun across multiple channels, regularly short-term focused. This is particularly the case with digital and social media channels.

One factor we seem to be extremely good at in the sector is creative – some great ideas and awesome design, delivered with a lot of passion. That is a great start but has to be balanced against a more strategic and data-focused approach – where data is used more effectively to map activity against business patterns, better targeting individual customers by their behaviour, and monitoring marketing effectiveness.

In the licensed retail space, we can really only build revenue in two ways – by increasing footfall through acquiring new customers or increasing frequency, and by maximising custom through increasing spend per head and turning more tables. Surprisingly, the metrics we can track these against are quite limited too. For the most part, marketing teams will already be monitoring and analysing the soft, fluffy metrics such as web hits, email open/CTR, social engagement and database size. The next step is to track and analyse conversions – enquiry volumes by email and phone, reservations volumes, and group booking numbers. The last link in the process is to map this against the commercials – cover numbers, revenue and spend per head.

Once you know the metrics you’re tracking, it’s time to map them against each other and back to activity, by marking it up. With digital marketing it’s often a lot easier to track individual campaign or activity success – particularly compared with brand building or traditional marketing – but you should expect to see trends appearing. In a basic format this can be achieved through spreadsheets with the help of CSV files. Taking it to the next level you can upgrade your analytics software to support some of this tracking and, if you are looking to really get this right, you could turn to a company such as Tahola or CPL Online, which both offer big data-tracking solutions and can create a customised solution.

In my experience, operators can be very sales-focused and will expect a direct impact on the cover numbers and revenue against a campaign, sometimes in a short time-span. Brand-building marketing can often take longer but will have a more lasting impact. When tracking this activity, it is important to look at other factors to try to establish the impact over a longer-term basis because it’s not always as obvious, although easier, if you can track through the marketing metrics, then conversions to commercials, over a period of time.

When considering the data you are collating and measuring for your marketing, it may be worth looking at what you send to your wider company. In the most part you will find any one person in your business may only really need eight-to-ten metrics to help them make decisions. One decision we’ve made at Thai Leisure Group is to base our reports around the future and not the past. While yesterday’s and the historic data is included, we believe we should be giving people the information to help them perform better today and for the week ahead – so even when it’s not all in the black, rather than getting down they feel motivated, with all the data they need to help them make decisions.
James Hacon is brand strategy director at Thai Leisure Group and continues to work with a select group of other operators to advise on growth strategy

Targeting millennials through Snapchat by Libby Andrews

In our quest at Pho to increase brand awareness and engagement with our millennial audience nationally, we’ve begun using Snapchat as a marketing channel. I believe we are one of the first restaurant brands in the UK to have a presence on Snapchat and, perhaps the very first to give it a go at getting people through the doors (ie effective use of the channel to create loyalty and drive sales). 

So why are we targeting millennials? Here is a recent report from Propel Morning Briefing – it’s what got the wheels turning originally.

Operators need to get up to speed and get mobile if they want to capture the millennial market, according to new research. The findings, by hospitality management solutions company Zonal Retail Data Systems and CGA Peach, showed 18 to 24-year-olds are increasingly influential, accounting for 29% of the UK adult population and 42% of “eating out” trade. They are prepared to use technology to search, browse, book, order and pay for their meals when dining out. The findings have been included in a white paper Get Smart To The New Wave with insight from sector specialists. The research also showed 56% of millennials believed social media has increased their awareness of eating and drinking out brands. Meanwhile, 54% are interested in using their personal devices to speed up ordering and to pay for their bill. More than a quarter preferred to be updated on news, offers and menus from their favourite restaurants through their preferred digital channels, compared with only 3% of the over 65s. Nearly 40% used social media to find out about special offers while 45% of 18 to 24-year-olds participated in one or more loyalty schemes for their favourite dining destination.

Why Snapchat? 

The majority of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old (about 37%) and 60% of its users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Snapchat now has more users than Twitter according to Bloomberg and its videos views are now greater than Facebook’s. Millennials account for seven out of ten “Snapchatters”, according to statistics. 

How have we used it?

Last month, we launched our Snapchat profile (PhoRestaurant). We shared this with our followers on other social media channels and our following instantly began to grow. Walking around our restaurants during lunch and dinner times, I noticed many of our customers were pulling out their mobile phones to take photos of their food on Snapchat, sending them through and sharing with their friends.

Following our launch on the channel, we wanted to do something that would increase followers and make use of the app to drive millennials through the doors. We started with what we called a “Snapchat Birthday Party” to celebrate our first anniversary in Manchester (on 28 August). We used our database, social channels and local press to promote the idea – add us on Snapchat and “snap” us a special birthday photo or video on the day and we will “snap” you back a voucher for two-for-one drinks to use at Pho Manchester. It worked! We had hundreds of new followers and birthday messages and the restaurant was filled with young people eating, drinking and “snapping” all night. According to the stats, at least half of our restaurant (which is in total 215 covers) was made up of the younger audience who had redeemed the unique Snapchat deal.

We also created a Snapchat “geo-filter” that was branded and popped up for sharing when anyone within half a mile of our restaurant was using the app. Not only did this increase awareness of our restaurant and engagement in a new social media channel, it successfully drove sales on the night. And, we believe this kind of engagement with our brand is what will secure brand loyalty amongst our younger audience.

What’s next?

We are creating unique branded Pho “geo-filters” for each of the Fresher’s fairs at universities where we have restaurants across the country (London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Leeds, Cambridge and Bristol) to increase our following and drive engagement with our brand. We will also continue to use our own Snapchat channel to give our younger audience an inside look into our restaurant and its USPs such as freshness and health, and to announce the launch of new dishes and restaurant openings first – before any other channel.

Lastly, regarding mobile apps, our work continues with our partnerships with Deliveroo and UberEats, and we have also just signed a partnership deal to trial Zapper – a popular mobile payment app – in six of our restaurants nationally across the UK.
Libby Andrews is head of marketing and PR at Pho

The great and not so good by Ann Elliott

I love August when city and town pubs and restaurants are a bit quieter and you have time to look around and see what’s going on. Here are some great things and some not so great things from the past two weeks.

The great:

The Barbary in Covent Garden: For anyone who loves Israeli food, the new restaurant from the Palomar team is a must. It’s a true delight, brimming with the colours, movement, smells and tastes that all make the original in Jerusalem a shrine for food lovers the world over. Whilst it’s a bit of a bore not being able to book or to sit down before all your party is gathered, the food more than makes up for that.
 
Cojean in Ludgate Hill: A beautiful, bang up to date, food-to-go concept with fabulous pressed juices, sandwiches, salad pots, soups, breakfasts and desserts. It’s clean, gorgeous, quick and delicious. It’s such a great alternative to the norm.
 
Coco di Mama: Real food provenance, amazing attention to detail, really speedy delivery and superb-tasting fresh pasta pots. Wonderful. Azzurri did a great deal here – it’s really one to watch.
 
South Place Hotel in the City: Beautiful setting, beautiful service, beautiful people. 

Le Pain: I decamped here for a couple of hours last week to work. Not a murmur. The staff were unfailingly polite and helpful – constantly topping up drinks with a smile. It’s such an easy place to enjoy.
 
The Delauney: Corbin & King just get it right in terms of service and operational brilliance (though the menu choice can sometimes feel a little restrictive). One of those places though where the quid pro quo is definitely worth it.
 
Aubaine Deli: Aubaine is such a great brand and due for a much higher profile now with Nick Young in charge driving it forward alongside Hani (Nakkach). The new Deli site in Covent Garden has kept all the Aubaine brand DNA but with just a food-to-go/coffee concept. Good coffee and fruit salad breakfast.
 
Honest Burgers: Does what it says on the tin. Very easy to hoover up a full plate full of rosemary-salted chips even when you don’t mean to. It has great burgers even for non-burger fans.
 
Siam: This is the real thing set up by the most amazing brother and sister entrepreneurs. It’s absolutely awesome. It’s a tiny packed place in Covent Garden with queues out of the door. The food is fantastic and so worth the wait. This will go far.
 
The Potting Shed in Bingley: The Yorkshire pudding burger is a bit of a twist on the usual plus it’s lovingly presented with a substantial portion size.
 
The not so great:

Scarpetta: This has the potential to be a lovely concept (a bit like Coco di Mama in terms of its food offer of quick, cooked to order pasta) but the team were disorganised, the process was over complicated, customers were hanging around waiting for their orders and the branding was poor.
 
Ham Yard Hotel: Kit Kemp’s hotels are staggeringly brilliant in design but sometimes the service and operational focus in their restaurants is just not up to scratch. Of all its hotels this is the one where it’s not always easy to find a waiter to either order from or to pay – the team just don’t always watch the tables. It’s a frustrating experience.
 
France: Yes – the whole of France from a food perspective. It has not moved its food offering on in the same way as the UK has. Overwhelmingly boring food – usually meat and fish with chips, sauce and a bit of limp salad on offer with virtually the same menu everywhere in every restaurant. The vegetarian dishes are tedious. Such a shame when its markets are crammed full of amazing fresh food.
 
Gino D’Acampo: Cross, grumpy waiters who were not happy when we ordered water (and then more) when they didn’t have fresh juices on a boiling hot day in London.

Back to the normal hustle and bustle from next week.
Ann Elliott is chief executive of leading PR and marketing company Elliotts – www.elliottsagency.com

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